COMMENTARY | The United States Senate is still reeling from the fallout of the nuclear bomb that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped, changing the rules and forbidding filibusters for most presidential appointees. But why now?
To be sure one can have a lot of fun watching old videos of Democratic senators, including then Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, denouncing the very idea of getting rid of the filibuster when they were in the minority when the Republicans contemplated doing it. Of course the Republicans drew back from actually dropping the big one themselves.
Reid’s dropping the bomb was both an act of political desperation and a cold, calculated power play. Because of Obamacare, the Democrats in the Senate are looking into the abyss come the 2014 midterm elections. A number of Obama appointees to various court positions are being held up by Republican filibusters, stymieing the drive to pack the courts with liberals whose rulings will be felt long after President Obama is out of office. Once the Republicans are in the majority, Obama’s power to appoint far left liberals will be gone.
Of course the nuclear explosion that had now rocked the Senate has obliterated any last vestige of what is euphemistically called comity, which these days consists of saying, “My dear friend, the senator from so and so is a dangerous fanatic.” Now the Republicans will take revenge however and whenever they can. Every effort will be made to use the remaining Senate rules to slow things down and make the majority’s lives an aggravation.
Also the Democrats have set a precedence. After 2016, when Ted Cruz or whoever is president, a whole host of conservative nominees will be rammed through. The Republicans might even extend the new rule to the Supreme Court and pack that body with conservative, pro life judges. In short, Harry Reid may have sowed the wind, but his caucus is bound to reap the whirlwind.